F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

May 2010. Stephanie died peacefully on 19th April after a short stay in hospital. She had been suffering from acute cervical cancer. Fred will continue to run the business to the best of his ability. The web site is slowly getting under control again as he tries to take over some of Stephanie's responsibilities, and learns some of the mysteries of Dreamweaver.

Pieces An on-line look at cameras etc. by Stephanie Marriott


Zenith 3

Zenith 3M

Zenith E

Zenith EM

Zenith B

Zenith BM

Zenith TTL

Zenith 11

Preset Lenses

Automatic Lenses

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October 2000

The Zenit or Zenith range of 35 mm. single-lens reflex cameras is perhaps the best-known range of cameras to come out of the Krasnagorsk factory in Moscow.

Other Krasnagorsk cameras include the Zorki, Horizont, Narciss, Zenith 80 and Krasnagorsk 16 mm. cine cameras.

The Zenith 35 mm. single lens reflex cameras are reliable and cheap, making them ideal cameras for the beginner or anyone on a tight budget. Later models - from about 1969 - take M42 screw fitting lenses and this means that inexpensive lenses are fairly easily obtained.

Early Zeniths take 39 mm. screw fitting lenses but note that Leica-type lenses will not register and are therefore incompatible, despite the fact they are also 39 mm. screw fitting.

There are a lot of different models of Zenith 35 mm. camera, far more than I can list here, but here are the ones which are seen most commonly.

The Zenith 3 was made from about 1960 until about 1962. It has a focal plane shutter giving speeds from one-thirtieth of a second up to one five-hundredth of a second, and B, a co-axial flash socket and a self-timer. There is no accessory shoe. Supplied with a 50 mm. f/3.5 4 element lens, the Zenith 3 cost nearly £30 in 1963, whereas with a 58 mm. f/2 6 element lens it was over £44.

The Zenith 3M is very similar to the Zenith 3. It was made from about 1962 until about 1970. It has a few improvements, notably a lever wind. It was also supplied with a choice of f/3.5 and f/2 lenses, costing almost £31 and over £46 respectively. A special version, not imported into the UK, was made in 1967 and engraved to commemorate fifty years of Communism in Russia.

The Zenith E is similar to the Zenith 3M but it has a built-in uncoupled selenium exposure meter (range 20 ASA to 650 ASA), Some Zenith E cameras were made for 39 mm. screw fitting lenses but most take 42 mm. screw fitting pre-set lenses. It was made, in various versions, from about 1965 until about 1982 and over that time more than 3 million cameras were produced. The most common commemorative edition is the "Olympic" model which is engraved to mark the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. It was normally supplied with a Helios-44 58 mm. f/2 lens and in 1968 it cost over £41. This camera is extremely common and it represents a good beginner's camera - indeed, I had an "E" as my first s.l.r.

The Zenith EM is similar to the Zenith E but takes automatic lenses. It was made from about 1972 until abut 1984. In 1981, it cost about £60.

The Zenith B is the same as the Zenith E but does not have the built-in meter. It was produced from about 1968 until about 1973.

The Zenith BM is like the Zenith EM but does not have the built-in exposure meter. It was produced for only a very short period but its design forms the basis for the range of cameras that followed, all taking automatic lenses.

The Zenith TTL has a coupled t.t.l. CdS meter, operating when the shutter release is partially depressed to stop the lens down. This procedure requires lenses with auto diaphragm operation - manual lenses must be stopped down when metering. In addition, the ground glass focusing of the earlier models is replaced by a micro-prism rangefinder. The TTL was made from about 1977 until 1985 and it is claimed that over one and a half million Zenith TTL cameras were sold, which may account for the numbers seen second-hand now. Unlike the E and EM, which require no batteries, the Zenith TTL requires one 1.3 v. mercury battery or equivalent.

The Zenith 11 is very similar to the Zenith EM, but it has a few minor changes, such as the addition of a hot shoe. Well over a million of these cameras were produced between about 1981 and 1990.

Choosing a Zenith camera is simple; avoid the models which take 39 mm. screw fitting lenses unless you are certain that the camera you buy comes with all the lenses you would ever want - 39 mm. lenses can be harder to find and more costly than 42 mm. screw fitting lenses. Decide whether you can handle the irritation (I found it a major irritation) that comes with using pre-set lenses - if not, get one of the later cameras which take automatic lenses.

Pre-set lenses

A pre-set lens has no linkage between the lens and the camera body. Therefore the cameras user must operate a ring on the lens to open up to full aperture for focusing and then stop down to the required aperture manually before taking the picture. People tell me that they get into a routine and that this presents no problems but I used my Zenith for four years and never got used to it.

Automatic lenses

The most common M42 automatic lens arrangement has a stud on the lens mount which provides a linkage between the camera body and the lens. The camera user sets the aperture but the lens remains at full aperture for focusing, only stopping down to the required aperture when the shutter release is pressed. The greater convenience of automatic lenses means that the cameras and lenses are often more expensive than their pre-set equivalents.

A pre-set lens, used on an automatic camera, will function as a pre-set lens.

You cannot use an automatic lens on a non-auto camera unless the lens in question has an auto/manual switch; if so, it can be used as a manual i.e. not pre-set lens.

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